The massive success of Benjamin Steakhouse and The Sea Fire Grill has afforded the owners, two guys named Benjamin who cut their teeth at Peter Luger, to open another location – Benjamin Prime – in which to sling their incredible food.
Nestled on 40th Street just below Grand Central in a modern yet elegant setting, Benjamin Prime attracts more than the usual steakhouse crowd. In addition to banktown big shots, business tycoons and groups of middle-aged guys on bro-dates, there’s a notably more female and young demographic dining there as well. The Benjamins attribute that to their diversified menu, which plucks the best from both Benjamin Steakhouse’s and The Sea Fire Grill’s menus, curates them and gently tweaks them anew.
The crowd mix is no surprise to me, since they offer things like a prix fix lunch for $35 and a three-hour $1.50 oyster happy hour from 4pm-7pm during the week. But they’re also garnering the attention of people – even celebrities – who are looking to host events in their handsome upstairs space, which boasts the ability to be either an open floor plan or sectioned-off rooms. The entire upstairs is enveloped by an impressive glass wall that showcases thousands of bottles of top choice wines; a perfect place to gather.
I was invited in for a complimentary meal to help promote the joint on Instagram and social media by the restaurant’s PR folks. I was impressed, and you guys know I’m always honest with you on here, regardless of whether my meal is free. In short, this place is pretty fantastic. Take a look at what we tried:
The porterhouse packed a good dry-aged punch for 28-days. I’ve had stuff that was aged twice as long but didn’t have half the flavor, so they’re definitely doing something right here.
That characteristic dry-aged beef aroma fills the room when the plates are coming to the table, and you can hear your steak before you see it, as they’re served sizzling on hot plates in the traditional, old-school steakhouse style.
While that serving method is generally not my cup of tea (I like a well rested steak and I worry about grey-banding on the edges), it is certainly done in the correct way here. The waiters don’t just plop the steak onto the table, walk away and allow it to continue cooking to well done on that screaming-hot plate. No. They will immediately serve you the delicious, pre-sliced, medium-rare steak, unless you’re an asshole who actually WANTS it to cook more on the plate.
In any case, I loved this porterhouse, and now I need to come back to try the rib eye, which is my favorite cut of beef.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9
The masters at Benjamin Prime hand-pick their meat directly from the Pat LaFrieda processing facility. The restaurant is one of the few (if not the only) permitted to do that. This means you’re getting the best of the best at Benjamin Prime. The steaks are then aged in the restaurant’s own aging box.
Cut selections include porterhouse (for two, three or four), NY sirloin, filet mignon, rib eye and a wagyu NY strip. That covers all the bases and then some.
Portion Size & Plating: 8
It may be a bit tough for me to comment about portion sizes since we received a few items that were extra big to share with eight diners, while other items were individualized and smaller, just so we could have a taste. Based on what I could see around me, though, I can safely say that the portion sizes are all generous. The plating is standard, traditional American steakhouse style: nothing fancy, but just elegant enough to make your mouth water.
Since this was a comped meal for me, I clearly have to give it full points! But the menu isn’t unreasonable, which is kind of shocking since the location is primo Grand Centralville real estate. In fact, I mentioned above in the intro paragraphs about the crazy price fix deal and oyster happy hour that they offer. Both of these are excellent bargains.
The bar was pretty crowded on a Monday at 6:30pm, which is great. It was hopping. It’s somewhat of a narrow space that stretches backward from the main entrance, but there is some window access and high-top seating to get comfy. The bar itself is gorgeous, with gas fireplaces lining the wall in back.
I tested their drink slinging skills with a dry gin martini, and they passed with flying colors. They also have a really nice menu of special house cocktails that looked delicious.
Specials and Other Meats: 8
They offer a Niman Ranch aged rack of lamb that I’m dying to try. But if you’re looking for chicken you can go fuck yourself, because it isn’t offered on the menu. Man up and eat red meat for fuck’s sake. You’re at a steakhouse!
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10
We sampled a bunch of stuff on the savory side, but we didn’t get into dessert. As such, I reserve my review score here to be amended if necessary (I suppose I always do that anyway for subsequent visits). But based on the savory success, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be satisfied with the sweet.
Benjamin Prime does something wild that I’ve never seen before: a dedicated tartare menu section. They offer four: (1) a duo with salmon and yellowfin; (2) filet mignon with truffle cream and shaved truffle; (3) strip loin with caramelized onion and foie gras; and (4) wagyu beef with caviar and egg cream. Come on! That’s fucking cool.
We tried the filet and the strip versions. I went in thinking I’d like the filet (left) better because of the truffle, but I came away liking the strip (right) better because of the onion and foie. The strip delivered a really robust, powerful punch of funky flavors. Awesome.
The sea scallops are perfectly seared and extremely tasty. I could eat a dozen at a clip, no sweat. The celery root puree really makes them pop in terms of flavor.
Bacon. Fucking ridiculous. Just get it.
I mean come on… Look at this… It’s just as thick as it is wide!
They serve a “creamless” style creamed spinach, which I always love when I see it on menus. It’s just better than the traditional, heavy style. They really nailed it with this one.
We also did some three-cheese mac & cheese, as well as creamy corn with pancetta. Both were really great.
We also snacked on some blistered shishito peppers. These were awesome. They’re lightly salted, have a great char, and boast a hint of fresh, herbal heat that kicks in with the occasional fiery one.
Seafood Selection: 8
There’s a ton of great looking seafood on the menu here, and I think that’s part of the reason why they’re attracting a slightly different customer base than Benjamin Steakhouse. Here, they’ve made an effort to combine the best of both their steakhouse brand and their seafood restaurant brand. Next time, I will order a fish entree as an app to share, so I can properly score this category based on more than just the scallops (which were incredible, as I mentioned above).
Nothing short of perfection here. The staff is absolutely great, from the front of the house, to the wait staff, to the bus boys, to the management. They’ll make you feel like royalty in this place.
They’ve really done a tremendous job with the space here. The main dining floor has high ceilings and good light from the windows along the street, but it’s cozy enough to feel private and intimate. Upstairs is great for even more privacy or a special event. They’ve managed to strike a nice balance: Benjamin Prime achieves the modern vibe while simultaneously maintaining the right amount of traditional.
My buddy Jeff from @foodmento organized a nice influencer meal here and invited me to tag along. Bob’s is a chain steak house that hails from Texas. They just recently opened shop at the Omni Berkshire Place hotel on 52nd and Madison. Since Texas knows beef, I was really excited to try this out. Here’s how it went down:
We had two beef items and lamb. I’ll focus on the beef here and discuss the lamb later.
The 22oz cote de boeuf rib eye was the better of the two steaks we had. It was cooked perfectly to medium rare, with a nice crust on the outside that was packed with good, simple seasoning. 9/10.
The 28oz porterhouse had a slightly different flavor profile to it that I wasn’t really feeling. It was still good – don’t get me wrong – but going back and forth with the rib eye created a stark and noticeable difference. 7/10.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9
There’s a lot of variety here. Three different sized rib eyes, filets and strips, and a t-bone as well as a porterhouse. Excellent showing. All the cuts are wet-aged for 28 days, so the flavor is a bit different than the standard dry aged cuts at many NYC joints.
Portion Size & Plating: 8
Portions here run slightly small for the steaks in relation to the pricing. The cuts themselves are good sizes, though, and so are teh other items like sides and apps.
My meal was comped, as I was here for an influencer gig to promote the restaurant. The prices, however, are a bit high for the sizes, with a 22oz “cote de boeuf” being $62 and prime porterhouse being $75. Luckily the quality is pretty much on point.
The bar is great. It’s a big rectangle with a bunch of high top tables situated along the windows that look out onto 52nd Street. Definitely a spot you can hang at for a bit. They also mix a good martini with blue cheese stuffed olives. Hendricks is $16, which is very fair in my opinion.
Specials and Other Meats: 10
This joint has a solid variety of other non-beef meats. They offer lamb, duck, pork, and veal (the other white beef). Fuck chicken. We tried both the lamb and the duck, and both really stood out as exemplary menu items that are totally worth trying. These would even be great as appetizers to share with the table.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9
We tried a lot of shit, and if I go deep into each with descriptions, this will be a long fucking review. So let me just rattle them off and highlight a little here and there.
Bacon: (thick cut slabs of Neuskes – outstanding):
Crab cake (great honey mustard sauce):
Potatoes (these were incredible – you can see them on the bottom right side of the steak here, sliced like thick potato chips, baked to a crisp, and covered with cheese sauce and onions):
Onion rings (amazing stack and perfectly cooked):
Roasted Brussels (because you need a little green sometimes):
Creamed Corn: I didn’t get a pic but it was excellent.
Fried Calamari (great crispy batter):
Smoked Salmon (the prosciutto of the fish genre – excellent):
Baked Potato & Carrot: See pics of the composed dishes above. The thick, long, and obviously phallic carrot is prominently placed on each plate, it seems, like the raging boner that hides within Donald Trump’s pants. You can just imagine the jokes that went around the table with that.
Carrot Cake (very moist and tasty):
Creme Brûlée (perfect execution):
Key Lime Pie:
Chocolate Brownie Cake:
Seafood Selection: 9
There’s salmon, shrimp (scampi or fried jumbos), crab cakes (entree portion), lobster tails and fresh fish of the day available. Not a whole lot, but it certainly will get the job done for the assholes who aren’t ordering meat. In fact, we ordered the shrimp scampi with black pepper pasta, and it was fantastic.
I kept going back in for more and more, bite after bite.
Impeccable. Everyone here is amazing and attentive. They know their menu well, and make excellent suggestions. Worth mentioning here is the amazing jar of pickles and peppers that comes out to every table. Careful or you might fill up on this instead of steak!
The table bread was warm and flakey, like a large dinner roll.
I like the large, open feel to this place. Finally, you can stretch out in Manhattan and not hit the back of someone’s head. Also the decor is beautiful with warm grey paneled walls and beautiful table settings.
BOB’s STEAK & CHOP HOUSE
21 East 52nd St
New York, NY 10022
A food buddy of mine, Jared from Food & City, set up a nice small press dinner at this joint since we recently got to know the person who runs social media and PR for this joint and a few others in the area. Check out the run-down:
While some parts were over-seasoned, some were also under-seasoned on this porterhouse for two. However, the cook temperature was a perfect medium rare, there was an awesome crust on the outside, and the meat was well rested and juicy. 8/10.
We shared among five people because there were other entrees to eat as well, like this sous vide and smoked beef rib.
This baby sits in a temperature controlled bath for 48hrs and is also smoked like BBQ brisket. The result is a really top notch entree that rivals the best smoke houses in town. I think it just needed more sauce. 8/10 (and also mentioned in the “other meats” section).
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9 Master Purveyors supplies all the meat for Christo’s, so we are dealing with excellent quality. You can see in the images above that the porterhouse has excellent marbling throughout the cut. Really good quality fat. Everything is aged in house for 21-days, and all the major cuts are covered with some large format options and alternative cuts as well (hanger, skirt, beef rib).
Portion Size & Plating: 8
Portions here are big. We were actually able to get a peek into the kitchen to see the steak cooking and plating process in action.
But these two videos really bring it to life, and in the second one you can see just how huge the portions are.
Another thing to mention in the plating section is the lobster mashed potatoes. They serve the potatoes directly in the lobster shell. Pretty awesome.
You get a lot of bang for your buck here, with steaks that still pack a ton of flavor but run a lot cheaper than the midtown boys. The quality is the same; it really is. I see the Master Purveyors trucks making deliveries all the time at the places in midtown. Yet, while we weren’t charged for the meal, I think everything only came to about $500. This is insane considering the amount of food, and the same bill in midtown would be $750. I’d definitely come back here.
This joint has a nice cozy bar and lounge area off to the side when you walk in. I think it makes for a great neighborhood spot to meet up for a drink even if you’re not dining. And bartender Jeff mixes a good martini.
Specials and Other Meats: 8
Since we were guests of the restaurant, the management and staff brought out everything they wanted us to try. That said, there were no specials read to us. In terms of other meats, aside from that awesome smoked beef rib, Christo’s offers lamb, pork chops and chicken, as well as hanger steak and skirt steak.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
We tried a shitload of stuff in this category. I’m just going to drop the photos in and talk briefly.
Classic trio of Greek spreads. Keep in mind, we are in Astoria here, so this is a steakhouse with clear Greek influence.
Lamb gyro tacos:
Lightly breaded and fried firm Greek cheese:
Why, yes, more bacon please…
Hanger steak egg rolls:
Lobster mashed potatoes:
Parmesan and chive fries:
Cheese cake and chocolate lava cake:
My favorites were the bacon, all the Greek items and the crab cakes. Stick to those and you’re in great hands.
Seafood Selection: 8
Scallops, shrimp, salmon and whole branzino are on the menu here for entrees, and I assume lobster as well due to the presence of a tank in the entry area. We tried the branzino. It was very simply prepared: roasted and de-boned.
The service here is top notch. Everyone is attentive, courteous and pleasant, from the bar to the back of the restaurant. And here comes the usual shot of table bread to boot. I always do it. Don’t know why.
They really do a great job with the space here. It’s cozy, warm, comfortable and has a classic steakhouse vibe. Since this place is situated in the residential neighborhood of Astoria on the first floor of an apartment building, they are somewhat limited in what they can do. While this place is no Keen’s in terms of grandeur and decor, they certainly deliver everything you want from the traditional steakhouse experience.
CHRISTO’S STEAK HOUSE
4108 23rd Ave
Astoria, NY 11105
There aren’t many places left in the city to get a really good meal while you watch live music. Minton’s, Duane Park and Blue Smoke come to mind, but those joints are small and almost always limited to jazz. I love the B.B. King’s venue. They get a great variety of artists coming in there, ranging from old time blues guys and rock bands, to country stars and rappers. Yeah, they have jazz too, of course, but B.B.’s really has everything – including great food.
I had been to B.B. King’s once before to see a show, but I never thought to eat there. In fact I didn’t even realize that the other side of the venue has a nice big restaurant called Lucille’s; I’d only been to the bar and stage side with smaller, less “fine-dining” style tables. So when Chef Wenford Patrick Simpson (Chef Patrick) reached out and invited me in to review and try his food, my interest was piqued.
I read up on Chef Patrick, browsed his menu online, and instantly became eager to take him up on his offer and give this place a spin. Chef Patrick began cooking as a kid in Jamaica. While attending high school he was offered a job at Club Caribbean, where he was an intern, to begin immediately after graduation. He worked many resorts before taking his skills to the sea on Royal Caribbean and Disney cruise lines. Later, he settled in New York City, where he became Executive Chef at Negril Restaurant. Now, not only is Chef Patrick the Executive Chef for B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, Subrosa and the Highline Ballroom here in NYC, but he’s also the Executive Chef at the Howard Theater in Washington D.C. Wow! I don’t know how he does it all. B.B. King’s alone is crazy. That kitchen gets incredibly busy when both Lucille’s and the main stage room are packed to capacity and the orders are flying in.
So what’s next for a man with such an impressive pedigree? He’s launching his own cooking show, called “Cook-Up with Chef Patrick,” on the TEMPO Network – a pan-Caribbean culture and music television channel.
His food has been awarded “Best in Taste” at both Spring Taste NYC, 2015 and Taste of Times Square, 2016. Sometimes he heads to Times Square, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s to give out tasting samples of his creations. In fact, Bloomingdale’s rated him its favorite chef.
It’s easy to understand why. Chef Patrick pushes boundaries in the kitchen. His goal is to create a unique dining experience; he takes Southern and American cooking to the next level with Caribbean spices and flavors. He cooks with love and passion, and his personality is as fun, warm and comforting as the dishes he serves to customers.
Below is a look at some of those dishes. First, the starters. Chef Patrick brought out a sampler for us to try, along with some of the full sized plated versions of each.
Let me start with front and center: mini chicken and waffles. These things are delicious. Savory, sweet, fresh, crisp, tender and juicy.
Sweet and spicy fried catfish bites. These were so addicting and flavorful, drizzled with a sweet, spicy and creamy chipotle sauce.
Popcorn shrimp with diced mangoes and a chili and lime sauce. Light, refreshing, and a real pop of flavor with each bite.
We tried two different styles of wings. First was a brand new menu addition, the jerk chicken spice wings. These were our favorite between the two. Lots of great bold flavors, and Chef Patrick really brings the flavors of Jamaica to the table.
The bluesy BBQ wings were good as well; we just preferred that strong jerk spice flavor.
This bowl of chili is thick and hearty enough to eat with a fork! It had an incredible smoky flavor with just the right amount of heat.
One of their best sellers is this nice, fresh chopped salad, with avocado, corn, bacon, tomato, goat cheese and a light vinaigrette.
Smoked brisket sliders with Blues Boy BBQ sauce (same sauce as the bluesy wings). These were super tender and delicious.
Speaking of brisket, the BBQ brisket here rivals some of the best dedicated BBQ smokehouse joints in town. It was incredibly tender and flavorful. In addition to brisket, Chef Patrick also fired up some amazing short rib, pork ribs and jerk chicken (the latter comes with a mango salsa).
Again, the distinctly Jamaican flavor profile associated with jerk chicken is really killer here. This chicken was slow cooked BBQ style and resulted in super tender and delicious meat.
But what southern-inspired meal would be complete without collared greens and a sizzling skillet of mac and cheese?
The greens were nicely cooked and had a great freshness and zing to them. The mac came to the table bubbling, steaming and sizzling, and had a comforting, soul-warming and hearty cheddar flavor.
And just when I thought this feast was done, Chef Patrick brought out a gorgeous sliced porterhouse!
The filet side was super tender and flavorful. I can’t believe I was even able to eat it after all that food, but I guess I have a separate stomach that’s just for steak.
Check out how perfectly cooked the strip side was:
It had great flavor and was perfectly cooked. For $80 this is one of the best deals you can find in the city to feed two people with steak. And I’d be a fool not to mention the awesome steak sauce that comes with this baby. It’s a bourbon steak sauce unlike any I’ve tasted before. I almost never use steak sauce, but this one was outstanding. I’ve actually been poking around the B.B. King’s website looking to buy a bottle of it, but I’ve had no luck yet!
And just as there is a second stomach for steak, there is also a third stomach for dessert. Chef Patrick made what I declared to be one of my favorite desserts in town. It’s a waffle with ice cream, whipped cream and strawberry sauce – nothing too complicated – but my primary motivation is flavor. This was absolutely delicious. The waffle was crisp and warm on the outside, but soft and tender inside. The ice cream was creamy and smooth, and the strawberry sauce was sweet and tart. Just perfect.
I think that covers everything we tried. There’s just one other item that the chef brought over to our table to show us. It was an order for another table, so we didn’t get to try it. Fried catfish! It looked and smelled great.
I guess I will say this in summary: lots of people buy tickets to a performance and they think they need to get food somewhere else beforehand or afterwards. This is not the case with B.B. King’s. Here, you not only get world class music performances, but you get top notch food to boot.
This is a throwback review that I’ve been meaning to write for a while. I haven’t been here in a few years, but the meat products are fantastic and worthy of my blog. Now that summer is here again, I figured it was a good time to post it.
Harvest is located out in Montauk, and has a great outdoor dining area that overlooks a picturesque lake with a dock.
First, I’ll talk about the lamb ribs. This is probably one of the few places you’ll ever see them offered. They are grilled up to a nice charcoal black and served with a delicious sauce. These things were the star of the show when I ate here. I think we even got a second order because they were so good, and the orders are very large to begin with.
Next, we had a porterhouse. The meat was thick and tasty, and served with a fresh peppercorn sauce and rosemary. Absolutely awesome, especially with the roasted onions that come with it.
We tried some skirt steak too, which came on a bed of nicely dressed mixed greens.
This place is awesome because is has a really big meat selection for a non-steakhouse. I definitely recommend giving it a shot if you’re out in Montauk this summer. Be sure to try the garlic and herb fries too.
UPDATE JULY 2016
Okay so I came back to re-test the waters on all these delicious family style items. As I recalled, I am still extremely impressed with this place.
The flatter, less meaty ones are actually better, because the bark to meat ratio offers some really amazing texture and flavor. All around great though.
Great herb and garlic flavor, crispy shoestring fast food style, which is just my cup of tea.
Don’t let the name fool you. This is a heaping bowl of shellfish (clams, mussels, shrimp and scallops) served in a delicious wine and garlic broth with grilled country bread. Amazing.
Perfectly medium rare, this is 16oz of greatness. While the meat itself is not very salted, it comes with a spicy butter that is meant to be spread across each slice. 9/10.
Both the filet and strip sides of this baby were cooked to a perfect medium rare. The fresh green peppercorns add a great pop of spice and herbaceous flavor to this masterpiece. 9/10.
Lobster and Truffle Fettuccine with Vodka Sauce:
Although the truffles were not particularly flavorful, and they were a bit shy with the lobster for a $52 entree, the pasta itself was cooked very nicely and the sauce was delicious.
Frozen Key Lime Pie:
Tart, sweet and slightly bitter, this delivers everything you expect from a good key lime pie, but in a sorbet or ice cream forma. It even has the graham cracker crust underneath. Very nice.
Ice Cream Sandwich:
This thing is massive, even for two. Although I didn’t taste it, I am told it is amazing.
Huge cream puffs are filled with ice cream and topped with whipped cream and chocolate. Simple and delicious.
Honorable Mention: Appetite Killing Table Bread.
Careful! This stuff will get you full. It is so delicious, and comes with olive oil and grated cheese.
THE HARVEST ON FORT POND
11 S. Emery St.
Montauk, NY 11954
I recently grabbed this Groupon deal for Embers because my buddy recently moved to the area, and I figured we would give this place a shot on my next visit to see his new place. I was pleasantly surprised with some aspects of the meal, and a little disappointed with others. Read on, my friends:
We had a group of four with us, so we went with the porterhouse for two and the tomahawk rib eye for two, that way we were able to try all the major cuts in one shot.
The tomahawk was a solid 9/10, and with a slight amount of tweaking I think this could be a 10. The sear was great, and the cook temperature was perfect. Also this is one of the larger bones I have seen come to the table in a while. The steak had to be about 50oz, if I had to guess.
I was impressed with the quality of the fat cap and how it was still pink through the center. Lots of times the cap can get overcooked since the fat in there gets hot very fast while cooking, and since it is on the outer edge of the steak, it can get overcooked. Check it out though – still nice and pink:
Keep in mind, this massive tomahawk chop was only $75, too. Amazing value here.
The porterhouse was unfortunately a bit overcooked. It lacked flavor and seasoning as well, despite a few parts of each side being salvageable. I’d say this comes in at about a 6/10.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9
There are a lot of different cuts to choose from here, and several variations of each cut in terms of size and quality. They have a skirt steak to boot, in addition to the four main cuts of beef. Actually, one of the four rib eyes they offer is even advertised as grass fed and hormone free. As you can see, a couple are labeled as Angus, too. I have to say, I was impressed with this selection. And even though I wasn’t a fan of the porterhouse and didn’t award top points for the tomahawk, I can confidently say that this is some near perfect beef in terms of quality. Maybe some additional aging time and another filet, along with more delineated sizes/ounces would take it to 10.
The selections up top are all dry-aged right next door at Vinnie’s Butcher Shop, where they source their meats, so they could easily push the aging time from 20 days to something like 35.
I went in there to take a look before we ate, and I can assure you that the quality is good, and the prices are very affordable, even for dry aged Angus beef.
Portion Size & Plating: 8
Portions are good here, especially for the price point. Sides weren’t too big or too small either. If you don’t notice the portion size too much either way, then that usually means they are correct.
Amazing prices here. They rival the suburbs, but with city quality food. I think I paid $92 for the Groupon, which got me $200 worth of food. With tax and tip, each couple threw in another $65. So all in I spent $111 for two people’s meals (we split the Groupon as well). Also, if you come on the weekend, they offer a $16 brunch special. Pretty good deal.
Embers is located on a major avenue in Bay Ridge where people congregate to go to bars and restaurants. There’s a nice bar that can seat maybe 10 people near the window, and they make some nice drinks as well.
Specials and Other Meats: 8
There were a bunch of specials offered on a separate paper menu, and the joint does offer veal, lamb and chicken in terms of alternative meats. They also have an Italian sausage platter for a very fair price ($18).
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7
We had some stand-outs here, but also some that fell short. We started with one of the stars of the meal, the “bacon steak.” These two slabs cost just $10 for both.
They were amazing. Perfectly crisp and seasoned, nice and meaty, good quality fat, and served with a tangy and robust steak sauce.
Next was the octopus and calamari app that was on special. They were braised and grilled, nice and tender.
Our two steaks came with two sides and a vegetable each, so another notch on the price/value belt. We tried roasted corn, baked potato, french fries, grilled zucchini and potato pie. What is potato pie? It’s mashed potato with mozzarella cheese and prosciutto. AWESOME! Not really photogenic, though. I totally got lazy and phoned it in on these pics, folks. Sorry.
To sum up: get the fries (awesomely crisp) and the potato cake. Pass on the baked potato, for sure. It came with no accompaniments.
Dessert was similar: hit and miss. The creme brulee was good. It was creamy and made correctly.
The cookie cake was good. Like a thick, soft cookie in cake format with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The peach melba was flat. The peaches tasted like they were maybe canned rather than fresh. Otherwise nice whipped cream.
Seafood Selection: 7
There’s shrimp, salmon and a catch of the day in terms of seafood, aside from the standard shellfish type items on the app menu. From what we tried, I would probably consider ordering a fish entree from here on another visit, or maybe sharing one with my wife as a snack while devouring another tomahawk.
The service here was good, and the waiters were friendly and attentive. They missed one minor item with my buddy’s martini, but this was nothing to make a stink about. Bathrooms could use a remodel or a freshen-up, but table bread in the afternoon on the weekend was interesting, as it consisted of brunch mini-muffins.
This is a nicely appointed mom & pop joint. The dining room isn’t trying too hard to be fancy or elegant. It doesn’t feel like it needs anything. It’s perfect for what it is, yet you still know you’re eating in a steakhouse. They even have a small side room for larger parties.
I would definitely go here again. I think I would go with the Tomahawk again, the slab bacon, the french fries and I’d maybe try one of the spinach items. With the Groupon deal in hand, this joint is a no-brainer. You should definitely go. Just listen to my recommendations and you are all good.
The Empire Steakhouse empire just opened a midtown east location.
My friend Matt was asked in for a press meal and he graciously invited me to tag along. We were able to try a bunch of stuff with our group, so I will get right to it.
We tried two cuts: the tomahawk rib eye, and the “Emperor’s cut,” which is a T-bone steak from the rear portion of the animal that has a much larger tenderloin side. I’m not quite sure how this is different than a porterhouse, unless what they offer as a porterhouse is more accurately described as a T-bone, which generally has a smaller tenderloin side.
As you can see above, it looks a bit overcooked. With such a large hunk of beef, that is always a concern. Pair that with the hot plate presentation and some graying of meat is bound to happen. Much of the cut was fine, however, and the large tenderloin was very flavorful. The sirloin side was a little tougher, but this was a welcome texture change from the super soft tenderloin side. Flavors were very meaty, there was a great sear on the outside with a good crust, and the steak was well seasoned. In any case, I’ve decided to also include this cut on my porterhouse page even though it is also on the “other cuts” page as a T-bone. I feel like some diners may expect this was a porterhouse. I do, however, think the price tag on it is a bit hefty when compared to their porterhouse for two. I’m curious about the porterhouse and why it is so much cheaper that this cut. Is the porterhouse on the menu actually a T-Bone, which would mean that the emperor cut is actually the true porterhouse? 8/10.
The tomahawk rib eye was by far the better steak at 9/10. There was a good amount of funk to it, likely from the aging process, and it was cooked perfectly to the specified medium rare. The fat cap was a good size too, as you can see from the up-turned slice below. There is almost an equal portion of eye as there is cap.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
All of the major cuts are prime and/or dry aged. The quality here is definitely a cut above (knee-slap). There are many sizes of porterhouse, multiple versions of the rib steak, several filets and even some off-cuts like the T-bone. In addition they offer A5 grade Kobe Wagyu filet and rib eye, imported from Japan.
Portion Size & Plating: 8
Portions here are all fairly large, and plating is simple, without too much flourish. For some items, however, they do make a solid attempt at beauty. The seafood platter, for example, is gorgeous (see below). And all plates were cleaned and wiped of any splash before coming out to the table.
Menu prices seem to be pretty good. There are some items that are very fairly priced, like a porterhouse for two for $96. I think the tomahawk steak ($65), and the emperor’s steak for two ($120) are a bit steep, but there are other alternatives. For example, if you want a rib eye you can choose the regular bone-in at $49, which is under the average price point for midtown steak joints. The porterhouse might be a cheaper alternative to the emperor’s steak, but, like I said above, if you’re all about the tenderloin, then that emperor’s cut might make more sense. The cool thing here is that you are getting great quality for that price either way.
The bar area is pretty nice. It’s not huge, but it makes the best of the space, with street-side high tops and large door-sized windows that open out to the sidewalk. The bar has a good selection of single malts as well, and they make a good martini.
Specials and Other Meats: 8
There were no specials read to us, but this place does offer a fair amount of alternative meats, like lamb, veal and chicken. I didn’t notice any pork other than our bacon app. We tried the rack of lamb. This shit rivaled the beef. It was super flavorful, really well seasoned and perfectly cooked.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7
I’ll just fire these off quick. First the seafood platter. I was a little bummed that there were no clams, oysters or mussels. Also, the lobster was completely flavorless, as were the shrimp. That was probably the only thing lacking in this meal, and that’s what is dragging down the score here. But the lump crab meat was absolutely delicious. No lack of flavor there. Also, it was beautiful when it came out to the table.
As you can see we also tried the Canadian bacon. This was great. I highly recommend this when you come here, as there are very few other bacon apps that are quite as good. Pictured below is just a half of one slice (we ordered two slices to share among four people).
We also tried the creamed spinach and truffle mac & cheese. Both were excellent. In fact I was wishing I wasn’t so full on meat, because I wanted more of that mac & cheese!
Last, we also had some onion rings. These were lightly battered on the outside, tender on the inside, and lightly seasoned. We all liked them a lot.
For dessert, we shared an apple strudel and a slice of chocolate mousse cake. Both were amazing. The chocolate mousse cake was light and fluffy, not overly sweet, and had a really nice oreo cookie crust on it. Delicious.
The strudel was even better, in my opinion. The flaky dough was crisp but not hard, so you could eat it with a fork without having bits of crust shatter and fly all over the table. The apples had a nice hint of cinnamon and nutmeg to them. Just perfect.
Seafood Selection: 6
There’s a shitload of fish to choose from here, but from the small amount we had (shellfish app) I am concerned. That lobster and those shrimp… so disappointing. But entree fish is a whole different ballgame. Bass, salmon, sole, tuna, crab cakes, shrimp, scallops and lobster (up to 4lbs) are all on the hot menu here. Since I didn’t try any, I can’t really opine on anything except for the shrimp, lobster and crab meat from the appetizer. Giving the benefit of the doubt for the actual fish, I have split the baby here with a 6/10.
Impeccable. The guys here really know their cuts, and they are super attentive without being in your face. They were very patient with our photo-taking as well. HAHA! I may as well mention the bread and sauce here too. Same as the other location, they serve up nice warm onion bread rolls, and the steak sauce is pretty good!
This place is absolutely gorgeous inside. There’s a beautiful spiral staircase just past the bar that goes up to what I assume is a private dining area. There’s also a nice back room with a long “last supper” style table for somewhat isolated large groups, with a large screen TV that plays a digital fireplace video. And beautifully upholstered booths and elegant tables are arranged under what has to be a 25ft ceiling in the main dining room. The back wall has a glass, temperature-controlled wine shelf that goes from floor to ceiling.
THE 1LB KOBE BURGER
You may have noticed a portion of a burger in one of my shots above. Well, when you’re eating with one of the guys from the Gotham Burger Social Club, you fucking try a burger.
Special thanks to Jill for taking this great shot of the guys:
Anyway here’s the burger:
This baby was juicy as fuck. I thought the patty might be too big at a full pound, but I was wrong. It didn’t overwhelm the bun or build up too high, somehow. The inside was cooked somewhere between rare and medium rare.
There was a great beefy, full flavor to it, as it is Kobe quality. We went with a mild cheese, Swiss, that wouldn’t overpower the meat flavors. This was really fucking good. At $37 (with fries and toppings) I guess it better be! They also offer a standard burger at the bar for $17.
To sum up, this place edges out the other location by a point, and has better marks for flavor, but it may end up being a bigger spread if I ever get back in to try a seafood entree. That section definitely has some wiggle room.
151 E 50th St
New York, NY 10022
My wife and I went to Disney with her family for a short vacation. While there, we hit this steak joint.
We tried nearly every cut of steak, so I was able to get a good feel for the quality of the beef as well as the skill of the chef. This place can definitely hang with NYC’s greats. I wasn’t expecting much after my last experience at a Florida steakhouse, but my wife really did her research on the dining options for this trip.
First, the rib eye, which I didn’t order but I tried a good amount. It was perfectly cooked and remained tender and juicy, with a great crust on the outside as well as a creamy blue cheese butter. This was probably a nine, and it came with a beautiful, big serving of bone marrow!
My wife and I tried the porterhouse for two. This was an eight. It was cooked nicely but just fell a slight bit short on seasoning. Otherwise, top notch. Both sides were tender and juicy, with just a few areas where things got over cooked along the edges.
My brother in law had a chimichurri strip steak, which was ordered medium well (he’s not a good steak orderer), yet it still retained flavor and some juiciness despite the ruination. Eight.
My other brother in law had the filet, which was big and juicy. Also an eight.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9
They have a lot of options here, and several variants within – like aged and prime. Take a look at the menu. All that’s missing, really, is an aged bone in rib eye. Arguably the most important cut, but I only took a point.
With a few tweaks in preparation, and some longer aging times, this place could be incredible. They even have an aging room on the premises, visible to diners, where they age the beef and hang the charcuterie:
Portion Size & Plating: 9
Portions here are large; plating is nice without being overly elegant. High marks on the charcuterie board, porterhouse and pork belly with clams plating in particular.
The prices here are pretty steep for Florida, but then again you are at a Disney resort, so a mark-up is expected. On the other hand, the food is well worth the money here. This is comparable to a NYC steakhouse, both in quality and price.
This joint has a full separate-but-attached bar called the Crew’s Cup that adjoins the restaurant. It’s a great looking country club kind of place, and the drinks are pretty good and cheap as well ($8.25 for a Beefeater martini is very fair in my eyes, being used to NYC).
Specials and Other Meats: 7
There were no specials read to us, and the menu is pretty bare when it comes to other meats aside from beef: only chicken. I don’t mind much though, because I don’t go to a steakhouse to eat any other protein but beef, and the showing of beef here is pretty excellent; it even includes prime rib and bison (which I still consider to be beef, in a weird way).
My mother in law tried this vegeterian pasta dish, which was beautifully plated:
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
The first appetizer that we tried was a charcuterie board. Here’s what was on it:
I’m always a bit underwhelmed by the amount of stuff on charcuterie boards at restaurants these days, but I get that this stuff is expensive and difficult to make. Anyway, this was all very good:
We also tried this pork belly and clams appetizer, which was incredible, although a bit salty.
The hunk of pork belly in the center was generous, and perfectly braised yet crispy on the outside. The fried lotus root was an elegant touch, and the broth was great to soak up with bread.
The sides here were great. Our porterhouse came with beef fat roasted potatoes and a trio of sides: caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and creamed spinach. I enjoyed them all. The creamed spinach was more creamy than I usually like, but it wasn’t overpowering. The beef fat potatoes were incredible – the beefy marrow flavor really took me by surprise. They were just a bit greasy, unfortunately.
The last side we tried was the truffle mac and cheese. This was made with orecchiette pasta and some fried onions. It was really delicious, and probably one of the better truffle macs that I’ve had.
Unfortunately we had to skip dessert. Too full!
Seafood Selection: 7
There’s red snapper and scallops on the menu here in the entree section. Other than that there’s just the usual shellfish apps. I was a bit surprised not to see any lobster on the menu.
This place is over the top and excellent. As you might expect, this kind of thing happens all over Disney. The people who work here are amazing, and they really, sincerely want you to enjoy your time there. Our waiter, Ricardo, was fantastic.
I guess I should mention the bread here. It comes with a really nice soft and salty butter, as well as a head of roasted garlic for spreading!!! You can choose onion pull-apart bread, or baguette style bread – or both.
The building and all surrounding areas are amazing at this part of the resort. When you enter the yacht club area, you’re greeted with an amazing, huge old fashioned globe in the entryway.
The Yachtsman Steakhouse itself (which is within the club near some other restaurants) attempts to hit the mark with the country club / yacht club look. It ALMOST nails it, but not quite. Something was missing, and I can’t put my finger on it.
This joint just opened up on 60th Street, just east of Park (not actually ON Park, but close enough). Owner Amir is having a great first few weeks after opening, with a packed house on most nights. Chef Russell slings the food here, after doing a 12 year stint at The Boathouse in Central Park. Impressive.
I ate here with my wife, sister in law and brother in law, so we got to try a good amount of food. For our steaks, we went with a 40oz tomahawk rib eye for two, as well as a porterhouse for two. Let me first discuss the tomahawk:
This fucker was cooked perfectly. You can see that nice bright pink medium rare awesomeness stretch from end to end. The crust had ample and robust seasoning, which was kept simple to course salt and cracked pepper. Even the far end of the fat cap was still a perfect medium rare; I was really impressed with that.
The porterhouse was similarly pro-executed. In fact, in the first few bites, we couldn’t readily identify which side was which between the filet and the strip – THAT’S how tender the strip side was!
On second glance it’s clear that the top is strip and the bottom is filet, but the filet side was quite generous.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
Blu offers two sizes of filet, two sizes of rib eye, multiple sizes of porterhouse and a strip. Everything is aged for about 28 days (with the exception of the filet) and is prime quality. These babies come from Master Purveyors in the Bronx. I’m familiar with their products and I can tell you they are top notch.
Portion Size & Plating: 10
Portions are all generous here, from apps on up the chain to entrees and desserts. The plating is simple and elegant, no fuss.
The prices here seem to be on par with other steakhouses in the area. It was a hefty bill, but I didn’t feel ripped off. In fact, it was the opposite: I was really happy with the meal and was happy to fork over money for a well-worth-it meal.
This place puts up some really great cocktails, and it has a killer selection of scotches, like Ardbeg Uigeadail – a super smoky and peat-infused islay whisky.
The bar is a beautiful black quartz topped stretch that is clean and chic, with gorgeous high tops and seating nearby.
Definitely a cool place to hang out, especially with cocktail napkins like these – haha!
Specials and Other Meats:7
There were no specials just yet, as the joint is pretty much brand new! The only other selection aside from beef was veal – the rest is seafood. I don’t mind that one bit – it’s just one spot where I need to deduct some points.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
We tried some oysters and the beef carpaccio for starters. Both were incredible. The oysters were west coasters that were meaty, clean and crisp:
The carpaccio was filet that was sliced thin and topped with some watercress greens, meyer lemon, crispy fried artichokes and shaved cheese. Great way to prime up for more meat.
For sides, we went with creamed spinach, whipped potatoes and roasted king oyster mushrooms. Let’s start with the best – the mushrooms.
I typically pass on mushroom sides at steakhouses because they generally seem to be a huge waste of money. They’re usually some crappy-ass button mushrooms that are overly buttery and mixed with onions. They may taste fine, but I can do that at home for $3. Here, the king oyster mushrooms, first off, are expensive and more rare. Second, they’re meaty and earthy, a great compliment to a piece of steak. They roast them with garlic here and they come out absolutely perfect. Third/last, at just $12 I find this to be a great buy. I’ve seen these ‘shrooms go for $24-$32/lb in some grocery stores. They also offer these “unsliced” and with a few other sides as a main, vegan option entree. Great idea.
The creamed spinach was a bit lacking for me, but my wife and I both agreed that we enjoyed the texture, which was broken up here and there with some crispness.
The mashed potatoes, which I didn’t photograph, were creamy and smooth, but they were nothing to necessarily write home about. When I visit again, I’ll stick with the mushrooms and maybe try the french fries instead.
For dessert we shared a key lime pie that was more like a layer cake than pie. My wife and I really enjoyed the change-up for this dish. The cake had an almost nutty quality, with the texture of carrot cake. It came with a scoop of coconut sorbet that was really icy and mild – not too sweet.
The manager, Carlos, was a real gentleman. He sent over a complimentary glass of after dinner dessert port for each of us, as well as a follow up reception at the bar with glasses of champagne and a cheese platter! We were blown away.
If you lack a sweet tooth, like I sometimes do, then this cheese plate is the way to go. The blue cheese on there is incredible! Especially when you mix bites alongside the fig cake.
Seafood Selection: 10
There’s a shitload of awesome, fresh fish on the menu. Salmon, branzino, sea bass, tuna and lobster all grace the menu in entree format. The apps are chock full of shellfish offerings (as mentioned above), and the plateau selections looked amazing.
I already mentioned Carlos’ amazing hospitality above, but I have to say that everyone here is great. All the way from owner to management, from front to back and the bar in between. Our waiter, Johnny, was a real gent (nice name too). And everyone was dressed really nice and sharp – waiters had nice suits with bow ties, and the table service was highly attentive without being in-your-face all the time. Well done guys!
The bread was warm and fresh – olive stick or white dinner roll – and the butter was soft and easily spreadable.
Amir has curated an absolutely incredible renovation from what was once a Chinese food restaurant and an office space into a really elegant and inviting two-floor steak joint. The downstairs is perfect for hanging out and sipping cocktails. Up a half a floor is a nice small dining area with a fireplace and high ceilings, with impressive wine shelving all over the walls.
Then up another half level is a long stretch of beautiful dining space that overlooks a huge full-front-of-the-building window and nicely painted exposed brick walls. There’s even a small private dining room that can probably seat about 20 for events.
GREAT new spot. Check it out and tell them I sent you.
I’ve updated this review here in the top portion of the entry. I’ve indicated below where my older reviews begin, for ease of reading. I’ve also indicated below which scores have changed, by how much, and why.
This recent update is based on my 3rd visit to the restaurant for steak (I’ve been to the bar a few times other than for meals). I was fortunate to be invited to lunch by Ruth’s Chris’ marketing and public relations execs. They brought me in to get to know me, know more about my blog, my plans, etc., and to talk about and try some new menu items they are rolling out, or have already rolled out.
A testament to the customer service here, and the type of people who work with and for Ruth’s Chris, I felt comfortable and at home with these folks. We DO share a profound love for meat, after all…
We started off with some really great appetizers. First was this New Orleans style BBQ shrimp dish. Laz, a really friendly and knowledgeable waiter who’s been with Ruth’s for 15+ years, explained how the sauce was made and how it brings in the traditional Louisiana flavors you might associate with a roux or something similar. Typically when I see something labeled “BBQ shrimp” on a menu, I shy away from it. For some reason I think “BBQ sauce,” and I’m generally not a fan of BBQ sauce (or buffalo sauce) with my seafood. But as soon as I heard Laz explain that it was NOLA inspired, I was intrigued.
My curiosity paid off. The sauce was buttery and had great soulful depth to it. You could taste the shrimp essence throughout, as if they simmered the shells for hours to make a perfect reduction.
Next was this spicy lobster app. It was lightly battered with a crispy, golden coating that grabbed hold of the lightly spicy, Asian-flavored and southern/vinegar-tinged sauce.
The meat was cooked perfectly. So tender and flavorful. The briny yet sweet pickled onion, cucumber and cilantro plated in the center paired perfectly with the buttery lobster meat. The crunch from the breading gave a nod to the classic Louisiana specialty known as the “Po’ Boy,” and the asian flavors were a tribute to the vibrant Vietnamese community in NOLA (just go visit Cafe DuMonde, or a shrimp boat operator on the mighty Mississippi – it’s almost all Vietnamese people working there). I loved it.
Why all the NOLA flavors? If you didn’t know, Ruth’s Chris began there, when a woman named Ruth struck out on her own to start this incredible brand of fine dining establishments. You can watch/read all about the rich history of Ruth’s Chris on their website. Ruth was a woman of many important “firsts,” especially in the restaurant biz, breaking down all sorts of social barriers, whether it was race, gender or just good old fashioned entrepreneurship and culinary ingenuity. Fascinating stuff, actually.
Okay so now on to the meat! One of the most important additions to the Ruth’s Chris menu (just a month ago) is this psychotic looking 40oz tomahawk rib eye.
I mean, holy shit… come on…
All the meat here is prime caliber, and wet aged for at least 28 days. At $115 this tomahawk may seem expensive, but it will definitely fill up two guests, especially if indulging in all the other great offerings when it comes to apps, sides and desserts.
The tomahawk was a clear 10/10 for flavor. It was cooked perfectly to medium rare. The fat content was all edible, melty and savory. Simply seasoned with salt and pepper, and cooked with butter, this steak truly hits the high mark for me, and is possibly one of my favorite steaks in town.
The chef even carved it up and portioned it out specifically for five diners right there at the table. I’ve posted a quick video of that below. If you pay attention to the audio, you can hear him explaining how the eye portion of the steak differs from the cap, or deckle. That kind of interactive and knowledge-imparting commentary is what I want to see more of in my dining experiences in general. If I were the owner of a dining establishment, I would want my diners to know as much about what they’re eating as possible, to immerse them in the “insider knowledge” about the food they’re eating. At least that’s what I like, anyway, as someone who is obsessed with food. Okay so here is that video:
As you can see from the close up here: perfectly pink all the way through. That’s the fat cap on the left, and the eye on the right. I absolutely destroyed the cap in about 20 seconds.
We also shared a porterhouse, which, as you should by now be aware, is a NY strip on one side of the bone, and a filet on the other.
In these pics, the filet is on top, and the strip is on bottom.
I’d say the strip side came in at about a 7/10. The center of the meat tasted slightly under seasoned. It was thick, however, and the crust had good seasoning on it. My trick to getting even seasoning flavors in each bite is to cut the meat both latitudinally and longitudinally, if that makes sense. Essentially that means each slice is then cut so that the steak goes from, say, 2in thick to 1in thick, with seasoning on one end, and pink center on the other. That tends to maximize the surface area of the seasoning, especially if you can wipe up a little bit of juice, butter and other goodies from the plate before each bite.
The filet side was an 8/10. Everything about it was exactly the way it should be. If you’re a filet person, you’ll probably want to go with their signature “bone-in filet” though. It’s a much more dedicated cut for filet lovers. In the shots immediately above and below, you’ll see the strip portion on the left, and the filet portion on the right. Both perfectly cooked to medium rare.
So taking all things together, I’d say the flavor averages to about a 9/10. That’s an improvement on the score from the previous visits. This is a great sign. Each visit is a better experience than the last. That means I will be back again and again. For the choice of cuts and quality category, my score moves from an 8 to a 10, given the special new additions to the menu in the meat department. In addition to those points, a tacked a point back onto the plating section. As it turns out, this visit produced no problems in the sizzling plate department. In fact, the sizzle was subtle and enjoyable, as opposed to blazing hot, loud and obnoxious. Plates come out at 500 degrees, and they cool down relatively quickly, so there isn’t much of a danger in the overcooking department. The sizzle is done correctly here. By the way, here’s a nice shot of a plate with all the cuts on it:
So in addition to menu additions, this NYC location of Ruth’s Chris is going to get some upgrades in decor. There will be a stainless steel wine display case to replace the wood. The bar will get some new finishes, some tile work and a new backdrop. Last, the dining rooms will see new wallpaper, updated finishes and even a grand fireplace. I’ve tossed another point to the bar category here, because the place truly is an awesome spot to hang out. It’s big and beautiful.
The bar is also street side, and lively most nights of the week. I’ve been in for drinks a few times since my previous reviews, and I always love the atmosphere. A quick note about the bar at other Ruths’ Chris locations: they’re running a Happy Hour deal where everything is $8. That’s a steal! I don’t think it is available yet for the Manhattan location, but if you’re in Jersey, the Weehawken location will have it, and they just expanded their bar area from 9 seats to something like 62!
On the side we had some brussels sprouts with bacon, mushrooms, and garlic mashed potatoes. I found that mixing the potatoes with the mushrooms was the best way to go at those bad boys. Its almost like mashed potatoes with gravy when you eat it like that.
For dessert we had two items. First was another new menu feature: white chocolate bread pudding served with spirit reduction sauce.
You can choose from four sauces: Grand Mariner (citrus/orange), Chambord (berry), Kahlua (coffee) or Amaretto (nutty). The original bread pudding came with a pecan sauce and lacked the white chocolate. I’m generally not a white chocolate fan, so I think I might like the original better than I liked this dish. However the sauces were really great. I kept going back for the Chambord and Kahlua.
This next dessert is actually a side item, but since it has a sweet flavor profile, it goes really well with desert: sweet potato casserole. The secret to this is to order it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. That is absolutely KEY. Don’t question me on this.
I first have a confession to make: I am NOT a fan of sweet potato. But I am now a converted man. Most places try to pretend that sweet potato is some kind of savory item. They make sweet potato french fries, trying to pawn it off as some kind of healthier alternative. Or they serve it like a baked potato. Fuck that. I love the fact that Ruth’s Chris embraces the sweetness and goes full bore into what this tuber actually is.
While this is listed as a side item to have along with your steak – like you would have, say, a sweet potato pie on Thanksgiving – I firmly believe that people who dine here should consider ordering this for dessert. I highly recommend… No… I DEMAND that you order this in lieu of your regularly scheduled programming of creme brûlée, pecan pie, tiramisu, key lime pie or whatever other boring-ass nonsense you were thinking about ordering. I’ve gone on tirades, and so has my wife, about being sick and tired of restaurants throwing in the towel when it comes to dessert. It’s like they just fucking give up! But with this sweet potato casserole + ice cream, dessert is exciting again. It has a sweet pecan crust that’s almost like a graham cracker + brittle mixture. That’s the only spot that contains any savory element. The sweet potato itself is soft like a mashed potato, with no grainy texture. It’s creamy and velvety, without being overly sweet. The ice cream on top of this hot dish turns it into a riff on pie a la mode. Delicious. Needless to say, I gave another point here.
Not only am I excited to go back and get this again, but I am going to try making it at home, because Ruth’s Chris actually provides the recipe for this dish online (along with the original bread pudding, the BBQ shrimp and crab cakes). Pretty cool.
While ambiance and service are already at top marks here, one thing I’d like to mention was this new thing they’re doing where you get to choose what knife you want to use for eating your steaks:
Essentially you can choose a super sharp French knife, or the larger/thicker serrated knife that we New Yorkers are accustomed to seeing here in our fine steak joints. I tested both of them out, and the small straight edge works much more efficiently. Since it is super sharp, it works like a filet knife. It requires fewer strokes to separate the flesh, which means less work, less time cutting and a much faster delivery into your mouth. HA!
So we have a total of 6 points of improvement, taking us from 87 to 93. I’ll be back in here very soon, because my wife absolutely must try some of these things. My guess is that this location will climb yet again on that visit.
Thanks again to John, Amy, Cory and Mikella for this great experience, and for the confidence you place in me as a steak authority. I look forward to future visits: I’ll be eating through my leftovers very soon, and will need a Ruth’s Chris fix, posthaste!
To my loyal meat minions, if you’re still interested, you can see how my opinion of Ruth’s Chris evolved by reading on below, to the older review(s) which I’ve preserved here for your edification:
RUTH’S CHRIS NEW SCORE: 93
OLDER REVIEWS BELOW (from two separate, earlier visits)
Ruth’s Chris is a well known steakhouse chain across the US. I took my buddy there for lunch because he scored me an interview which eventually landed me a new jobby job. That said, this review should be taken with a grain of salt since we dined from a low cost prix fix menu. REVISED: On the second trip here, things have improved. See text in italics for new additions to the review. First, some commentary about this place being a chain: Many people would frown upon the chain aspect. But I disagree. A chain of this caliber allows the large company making big money to spend a little more and go that extra mile. With places like Outback or Fridays, they often cut corners to keep more profit… but a place like Ruth’s Chris is putting the extra $ into their decor (it looks nice regardless of whether it is “authentic” or not), into the quality of the product, and into the service. I have to say – I like this place. And if the food is good that is all that should matter, right? Right.
The steaks were good: tender, well seasoned, and a slight gamey flavor that was JUST the right amount – enough to remind you that you were eating a quality piece of meat, but not too much to the point where you feel like you are licking the peri-anal area of a barnyard animal. Downside? They overcooked both of our steaks; I ordered a 12oz strip, medium rare, which was surprisingly thick for a small portion. It was medium in parts, medium well in others, and medium rare in other parts. UNEVEN! Hey – what can you do – it was lunch in midtown. My buddy ordered the petite filet with shrimp, medium, and it was medium well to fully well. What a shame. The meat was good though, so I am only taking off three points. Butter. BUTTER is the secret here. Everything is soaked in it. I ordered the ribeye and the fat cap on it was delicious. The cut was nice and gamey from the aging process, just like last time. There was a strip or two that I couldn’t eat, but for the most part this was a great experience. My wife loved the flavor too. They serve it on a hot plate, which I dislike in general, but I ordered my steak a bit under just to be safe. As it turns out, they cooked it just right regardless of the hot plate. They’ve got the system down.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8
The lunch menu had tons to choose from. Ribeyes, cowboy ribeyes (bone in), porterhouses for multiple diners, t-bones (which I think they call their porterhouse for one), strips, several portions of filets, and lamb. They did, however, stick to the basics. No skirts, flanks or anything like that. The quality is all prime and aged. Very nice.
Portion Size & Plating: 8
We ordered from a prix fix menu: soup or salad; petite filet + shrimp or strip; creamed spinach or mashed potato; strawberry shortcake with hazelnut truffles. Even this lunch special had great portions, at 6 and 12 ounces for filet and strip. Their regular menu items are average to large sized, but I took points off for the “hot plate” style of plating that I despise. It ruins meat, and it MAY be why our meat was overcooked. Meat, after cooked, needs to rest! The size of the cowboy ribeye was probably about 20oz.
Ribeyes are mid to high $40s, which is normal for NYC steak joints. Our meal was $75 total with tax and tip (the prix fix is $28.95 for soup (gazpacho) or salad; petite filet + shrimp or strip; creamed spinach or mashed potato; and strawberry shortcake with hazelnut truffles). Total meal for two on the second visit was $243 including tax and tip, which was with several apps, sides, drinks, etc. Not bad!
The bar is nice looking – dark wood, fancy looking. I’d definitely hang here for a martini, which they make well. And wine – WINE – everywhere. It is part of the decor, since almost every wall in the hallways are also wine racks, you can’t miss them. The collection is beautifully encased in glass and wood cabinetry throughout the entire restaurant.
Specials and Other Meats: 9
This is tough to rate on a lunch meal, but they do have chicken (for pussies) and lamb (for half pussies). As for the prix fix – it was awesome for the price. Well worth it. This place has some really great specials on and off the EXTENSIVE menu. Really take your time to poke around, because there are nice surf and turf combos and price fix deals. Also they will pretty much accomodate anything you ask for.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9
The creamed spinach and mashed potato were basic – nothing fancy – but when you combined a fork-full it was spectacular. The salads were basic, but my blue cheese dressing was top notch, with real chunks of blue cheese and a nice cream. The dessert, also, was basic, but the flavor of it surprised me in a good way (strawberry shortcake with strawberry whipped cream and hazelnut chocolate truffles). We had some new items on the second trip. The mandarin arugula and crispy prosciutto salad with shaved parmasean cheese was excellent, and a big portion. The sweet yet peppery, bacon-scented dressing was a great way to open the meal. We also had the spicy lobster plate, which was essentially a lobster tempura with a spicy kick to it. Yummy! Last, we had the amazing crabtini. Get it. Big juicy lumps of crabmeat dressed in a nice aioli. Totally worth it. My wife had a price fix deal that came with a side of broccolini. It was essentially steamed but then topped with a savory parmasean cheese crumble. Not too bad. For dessert we had some vanilla ice cream (rich and creamy), and our anniversary plate had some fruit + cream, a bit of ice cream, and a thick, rich, coffee-flavored chocolate cake.
Seafood Selection: 8
I have to be honest, I didn’t even look, but I will leave the score as a default 8. Some fools behind us ordered salmon – assholes. May as well order a plate of grilled veggies or a tofu steak, as my buddy said. They had an almond crusted seabass and some scallops on a price fix special that looked really enticing. My wife had a special seafood plateau that came with pre-cracked Alaskan king crab, a half lobster, and shrimp. The lobster was a bit over-boiled, but all else was good. They also have a good deal of other seafood items on the regular menu by way of apps, but not much in terms of mains. As such, I am keeping this as an 8.
Service is good here. They have male and female servers, but all wear the classic white button down with a tie of some sort. I didn’t quite get into it with the waitress about the meat, and she almost brought us a plate of fries on accident, but I can tell they know what they are doing. Warm crisp bread with spreadable, home-made whipped butter, and nice tables, etc. They pay close attention to the notes you add when you make your reservation online. They wished us happy anniversary multiple times, and they even created a special seafood plateau upon request, even though they don’t have one on the menu (though it was a bit pricey). They also brought out a special dessert plate with “happy anniversary” written on it in chocolate. Nice touch.
Going into a chain steakhouse, I was expecting much less than what I experienced. This place is fantastic inside. Really beautiful, elegant, dark, woody, manly, fancy, and comfortable. Nice mural paintings of old style urbanites adorn the walls, which are half dark wood wainscoting on the bottom and half elegant patterned wallpaper on top (where there are no paintings/murals). An elegant stairway leads up from the entryway to an unknown dining area of further fancifulness. I didn’t use the shitter, so I don’t know how good it is. The shitter is nice. They have green marble tiles, dark wood trim and thick disposable hand towels. The place is also pretty big, with multiple seating areas for dining.